Eastern Michigan University is taking precautions in order to prevent possible outbreaks of illness, particularly the H1N1 virus.
“Right now, H1N1 is as severe as the common flu,” said Mark Wesley, EMU’s emergency management director.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has reported 8,842 hospitalized cases and 555 deaths due to H1N1 in the United States and territories as of August 27. Michigan has reported 3,297 cases of flu-like illnesses as of August 15, some of which might be H1N1. Despite the numbers, panic about the virus has gone down since May.
Though there is no threat now, EMU has been preparing in case an outbreak does occur in Washtenaw County. Wesley has been working with Washtenaw to create a memorandum of understanding, which would allow for the Convocation Center to be a distribution site for the eventual H1N1 vaccine. Other actions include making the University Health Services a site for administering the H1N1 vaccine as well as preparing a team that can respond rapidly if a case were to be found on campus.
People between the ages of 5 and 24 years old are among those at the highest risk for H1N1. Freshmen, who arrived on Saturday, were given bottles of hand sanitizer as a part of the orientation and had the option of receiving seasonal flu shots.
“The best thing we can do as far as prevention is good hygiene,” Wesley said.
Ellen Gold, executive director of University Health Services, said, “Good hand hygiene is a simple, but effective way to keep healthy or to prevent the flu from spreading. That means washing hands often with soap and water, especially after coughing or sneezing.
“We’ve reinforced that message by posting flyers in the restrooms that demonstrate the proper method for washing hands. We also have placed hand-sanitizing dispensers throughout campus.”
Emileigh Curtin, a senior studying education, said, “I think you have to take the same precautions as with the flu, but be careful.”
Any individual who believes he or she might have the flu should take care of themselves and avoid contact with people as much as possible. The CDC suggests any individual recovering from the flu stay away from others a full 24 hours after the flu is gone to prevent spreading the virus.
Freshman Elise Lieberman isn’t sure if the health precautions are going to do much if her fellow classmates don’t take them seriously. People aren’t too worried about getting sick, she said, and neither is she.
“If it happens, it happens,” Lieberman said.